Fox News spent less than three minutes covering a Washington Post report detailing how Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses.” By contrast, CNN spent over 23 minutes on the story, while MSNBC devoted nearly an hour of airtime to the report. Fox News has previously essentially ignored investigations into the Trump Foundation and his business dealings.
The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reported on September 20 that “Trump may have violated laws against ‘self-dealing’ — which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses.” Trump spent $258,000 from the Trump Foundation -- to which he has not personally donated since 2008 -- to settle legal issues involving his for-profit businesses, which Fahrenthold noted on CNN “is against the law.”
A Media Matters study found that from the time the story was published around 10:27 a.m. on September 20 through 9:00 a.m. on September 21, when the cable news morning shows ended, Fox News spent two minutes and 58 seconds on the report. CNN spent 23 minutes and 52 seconds on it, while MSNBC devoted 56 minutes and 12 seconds to the report. Fox’s flagship evening news program, Special Report, spent merely 12 seconds on the news.
Fox News’ segments on the report offered few details on the investigation. The longest segment Fox devoted to the report was one minute and 41 seconds on The O’Reilly Factor, in which guest host Bret Baier allowed Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway to dispute the report.
This is not the first time Fox News has omitted coverage of unflattering investigative reports into Trump’s foundation and business practices within a day or two of publication.
Fox News entirely ignored a report earlier this month that Trump has apparently broken both the law and IRS rules with his foundation, and he has not donated money to his own foundation since 2008. The report explained that Trump instead lies to other charities and the public by suggesting that the foundation’s donations are his own money. In addition, Trump has spent money from the foundation “to buy himself a gift” on two different occasions..
Fox News also failed to cover an illegal campaign contribution from the Trump Foundation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, which “came as Bondi was reviewing whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University,” though she never took any action against Trump U.
Fox News also neglected to cover a report from Mother Jones revealing that Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here.”
At the same time, Fox has scandalized reports about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s associated foundation, claiming she engaged in “pay for play” as secretary of state, despite there being no evidence of wrongdoing. Fox’s own reporting has in fact undermined many of these claims.
Methodology: Media Matters searched SnapStream for mentions of Trump and foundation or charity on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN between 10:27 a.m. on September 20 to 9 a.m. on September 21, excluding all mentions that took place between 11 p.m. on September 20 and 5 a.m. on September 21.